Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Pork-don Bleu - A Pork Chop Cordon Bleu

On a whim last weekend, I decided to try making a grilled Cordon Bleu but instead of using a ham and Swiss stuffed chicken breast, I used a chicken and Swiss stuffed pork chop.  I dubbed it the "Pork-don Bleu".  

The sauce is a bacon cream sauce.  The bacon isn't a matter of "Just throw bacon at it to appeal to the lowest common denominator".  Since the pork chop is grilled instead of sauteed in a pan, I didn't have the sucs (pronounced "sooks" - brown bits left in the pan) to make a pan sauce.  So I sauteed some diced bacon to create the needed sucs.

Pork-don Bleu
Serves:  4
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time:  40 minutes

  • 4 New York Pork Chops (aka center cut boneless pork chops)
  • 4 thick slices chicken breast lunch meat
  • 4 slices Baby Swiss cheese
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried sage
  • 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
For the bacon cream sauce
  • 4 strips hickory smoked bacon, diced
  • 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter
  1. Set up your grill for direct heat and preheat your grill to 350°F.
  2. Prep the pork chops - Use a sharp boning knife to butterfly the pork chops (see tips below).  Place each between pieces of plastic wrap and use a meat mallet to pound them to an even thickness. 
  3. Assemble the Pork-don Bleu - Mix together the salt, black pepper, garlic, thyme and sage.  Season both sides of the chops.  Top each chop with a slice of chicken and cheese.  Roll up and secure the edges with toothpicks (see tips below). TIP:  COUNT THE NUMBER OF TOOTHPICKS THAT YOU USE.
  4. Make the bacon cream sauce - Crisp the bacon in a sauté pan.  Remove bacon and reserve 1 tablespoon of bacon grease in the pan.  Whisk in the flour to form a blond roux.  Whisk in the stock, making sure to scrape up any brown bits stuck to the pan.  Don't worry, it will become a thick goo for a second.  Now whisk in the cream 1/4 cup at a time, continuously whisking until all is added.  Finely chop up the bacon and add 3/4ths of it to the cream sauce, keep the rest to use as a garnish. Season with salt and pepper.  Remove from heat and stir in the cold pat of butter.
  5. Increase the grill temperature to 450°F.  Sear the rolled up chops on one side for 2 minutes.  Rotate about one third of the way around and sear that side for 2 minutes.  Rotate the pork chops to the last side and sear for 2 minutes.
  6. Place the rolls in a small grill safe pan, pour the cream sauce over them, and top with the bread crumbs.  Place back on the grill in an indirect set up and cook until the sauce is thickened and bubbly, about 15 minutes.
  8. Plate and pour some of the sauce over each pork chop.  Sprinkle with the reserved bacon bits and serve.
A tip for butterflying the pork chops, before trying to cut mine, I compact the pork chop by lightly squeezing it inward on all sides like below.  This makes it slightly thicker, giving you a bigger target. 

But it also makes it easier to slice through the compressed meat.

The plastic wrap just helps the meat flatten without tearing so much when the mallet strikes.  It also helps to give the wrap a light spritz of water if you have a misting bottle.

I like to use those small pieces of deli wax sheets between the flattened pork chops to keep them from sticking together and make them easier for handling.

Ready to roll up.

 Seriously, count your toothpicks.  Having a guest swallow a toothpick is not a good thing.

If you find your grilling temperatures getting too hot while crisping the bacon or making the sauce, gas grillers can just lower the temp.  For charcoal grillers, just move your saute pan from directly over the hot fire to a cooler part of the grill.  

Mmmm bacon dust!
You can make the sauce on a stove top burner if you feel more comfortable but I like the challenge of making sauces on the grill.  The picture below shows it before the cream is added.  For most sauces, you cook them down to a consistency that covers the back of a spoon but this sauce will cook more, so you want it slightly thinner.

You want your pan to be just big enough to hold the pork chops.  If it is much bigger, the sauce will spread too thin and burn.  These foil drip pans that I get at my grocery store do perfectly.

Instead of dropping in the plate setter to convert my Big Green Egg to indirect, I created a form of indirect by putting the pans over my stoneware lasagna pan instead.  Worked like a charm and I didn't have to bother with moving the hot grill grate.

Gratuitous Egg shot.
 When the sauce gets bubbly and thick like pictured below, they are done. 

These were pretty excellent. The pork was tender and flavorful and the bacon cream sauce was the perfect accompaniment.

Pork Bucket List
Our good friends at the National Pork Board have started a "pork bucket list" at What is a pork bucket list?  Here's what they have to say.

We’ve all heard of travel bucket lists and before-you-kick-the-bucket list – so we decided, with so many ways to enjoy pork, why not start a #PorkBucketList? Think of it as ‘That Amazing Recipe I’ve Been Meaning to Try’, or ‘The Perfect Excuse To Travel to San Francisco for Authentic Dim Sum.’

The opportunities to take a new adventure with pork are endless – so, to help fans get inspired and get started on a journey to enjoy pork in as many ways possible, we’re asking you to share what’s on your #PorkBucketList. Here (at you can see what pork adventures other fans, food personalities and chefs are checking off their lists, find great recipes to try and more. And, just for sharing, we will surprise a few lucky individuals by helping them check an item off their list.
I thought through every amazing pork adventure that I have been fortunate enough to do and realize that I have already scratched off a lot of great pork bucket list items.

  1. Attend Memphis in May - the super bowl of swine.  Did it the past two years 2013 and 2014.
  2. Visit a sustainable pork farming operation.  Did that with the National Pork Board in 2012.
  3. Lead my own BBQ team in a BBQ competition instead of being on other people's teams.  Did that just two months ago.
  4. Cook each of the heritage breeds of pork.  This one is in progress because there are more that I want to do, but my neighbor and I just cooked a Kurobuta pork shoulder for Father's day this year.  
But there are still things on my #porkbucketlist that I want to do.  Namely....
  1. Cook pork shoulder on a team at the Jack Daniels World Championship BBQ Invitational. It is one of the big 4 in the BBQ world.
  2. Become an MBN judge.  We are already KCBS Certified BBQ Judges but I'd like to become certified in MBN because they include live in person judging and are more pork-centric as a contest body.
  3. Be the pitmaster for a group cooking whole hog.  
  4. Take a butcher class and break down a whole hog into consumer cuts.
What's on your list?  Share your #porkbucketlist and the National Pork Board might just make one of your items come to pass.